Just because things have been said time and time again, it doesn’t mean that they are true. It is a confusing world out there with so much information to take in. The fitness industry is changing with much more research taking place meaning that information is dated or irrelevant these days.
Here are some of the most common exercise myths based on current exercise research.
Going to a Gym Is the Best Way to Get Fit
As a home personal trainer, I just have to laugh at this one. You do not need a great amount of equipment to get fit. Personally I find gyms boring, demotivating, and limiting as there are so many ways to exercise out there.
Research has shown that some people find it easier to stick to a home based fitness program due to it being more practical. For those with children it can be tricky to get to the gym, and for those with a busy lifestyle they don’t want to take two hours out of their evening.
Home workouts can be just as beneficial as a gym workout however it depends on your goal. If you are looking to lose weight and tone up then train wherever you like. The only time a gym is more beneficial is if you are looking to become a bodybuilder and have no heavy weights at home.
If you just trained in the gym then it would limit your choices. Taking part in a sport you love, going on a bike ride, or going rock climbing are all varied ways of getting fit. Keep your options open and find something you enjoy, as that is the best way to get fit.
The most beneficial exercise programme for you is the one you will participate in consistently. Routine and the quality of the exercise is the key to getting fit. Not all of the equipment in the world.
Low intensity workouts burn more fat
This one I hate, but it is one I understand is confusing. If you visit the gym and use the cardio equipment then you tend to see a chart stating that if you exercise within 55-70% of your maximum heart rate then you will become a fat burning machine. This is not entirely true. Let me explain.
If you exercise at a lower intensity then the percentage of fats burned off during exercise are greater than the amount of carbohydrates used. The problem with this information is that is does not take in to consideration how many calories in total are burned off or the effect it has on the body.
In a high intensity interval session your body may burn a smaller percentage of fats than low intensity aerobic exercise but the key point here is how many calories you have used.
Lets say in a 40 minute continuous aerobic session like walking on a treadmill you burn off 200 calories. 60% of fat is burned off taking the total to 120 calories of fat being burned off.
Lets say in a 20 minute high intensity interval training session you burn off 500 calories. 40% of fat is being burned off taking the total to 200 calories of fat being burned off.
Your body will also be recovering after high intensity exercise for a longer period of time than low intensity exercise meaning that you metabolism will stay up which will continue to burn off calories after you finish exercise.
The difference here is the intensity that you work out. In short, higher intensity exercise is more beneficial for burning fat due to the total amount of calories used during this particular exercise. At the end of the day, you will have used more calories including a higher amount of fat.
The faster you move, the more calories you use per minute. With the time you have to exercise I would advise you to use high intensity interval training to burn off as much fat and calories as possible. Focus on intensity and the results will follow.
Train hard and the results will come
There are two points to this myth. The first one is no matter how long and hard you exercise for, it may not be beneficial for the results you hope to achieve. The second is that genetics play a role in how people respond to exercise.
Instead of focussing on how long and hard you train for. Concentrate on the quality of your workouts and include the things that matter. Focus on completing each exercise properly and make sure that you work outside of your comfort zone. Only then will results start to come.
When it comes to genetics then there are a variety of factors that will affect your results. There is no point in copying what works for someone else as their body type may be different to yours along with their goals. Seek help from professionals as they will know what is the best way to train to achieve your fitness goals.
You can lose as much weight as you want through exercise
As with all responses to exercise, weight gain or loss is dependent on many factors, including dietary intake and genetics.
All individuals will not lose the same amount of weight on the same exercise program. It is possible to be active and overweight. However, although exercise alone cannot guarantee your ideal weight, regular physical activity is one of the most important factors for successful long-term weight management.
You will probably have heard the saying that you can’t out train a bad diet. This is true and when it comes to weight loss what you eat and the amount you eat play a pivotal role in achieving your weight loss goals.
Secondly a person’s age, gender, and body type play an important role in how much weight you can actually lose. Don’t try to lose a specific amount of weight. Instead focus on how you feel, how you look in the mirror, and what works for you. Dont track your fitness goals on just weight alone.
Strength training will make you bulk up and gain weight
First of all this is complete nonsense. The great thing about this myth is that more and more people are now understanding that this is total bulls**t. Everyone should be including strength training in their workouts and people who are wanting to lose weight are included.
Including strength training in your exercise routine will help you gain muscle which in turn will help you burn fat. It is much more difficult to lose weight through just aerobic exercise alone. Work on gaining some muscle mass in the major muscles of the body through exercises such as squats, bench press, and using the lat pulldown.
Also if you are a female and are worried about ‘bulking up’ then you don’t need to worry. Muscle growth and bulking up depends on your testosterone levels, of which females are lower. This means that no matter how much weight training you do, you will not end up looking like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
A big part in the bulking process is also the foods that you eat. As long as you aren’t consuming 5000 calories a day then you won’t bulk up.
Strength training helps maintain muscle mass and decrease your body fat which can only be a good thing.
You can pick a certain part of your body to burn off fat from
When it comes to exercise, everyone wants to change specific parts of their body. They want to trim some fat from their inner thigh, or lose the bingo wings, but you can’t just focus on reducing body fat from a specific area of the body.
Overweight people will tend to focus on doing 15 minutes of sit ups to reduce the body fat on their stomach. This will not work.
Instead focus on whole body exercise sessions at a high intensity. If you focus on burning fat from all of your body then the body fat you are looking to lose from a specific area will come too.
Cardio is the best way to lose weight
A big one for people looking to lose weight. A majority of people will stick to just using the cardio equipment in the gym and not venture in to the weights section. This is a big mistake.
First of all you should be including cardio in your weight loss plans however one thing you must also include is strength training. This will help you gain muscle which means that your body will require more energy(calories) to function. Lets say a pound of muscle is equal to 50 calories, if you gain this then in theory it is 50 calories burnt off every day.
Also when it comes to weight loss then the foods that you eat are extremely important. Just focussing on running 10km every day at the same pace is not going to get you the best weight loss results. It is all about putting a combination of cardio and strength training with a strong nutrition plan.
Overweight People Are Unlikely to Benefit Much From Exercise due to their lack of ability
Some people think that they are too overweight to get any benefits from exercising. Personally I see this as an excuse. Apologies if I sound harsh. The benefits of exercise for overweight people are huge.
Exercising will reduce an overweight persons blood pressure, risk of diabetes, risk of heart disease, improve mood, increase energy and much more.
The tip here is to start off slow to allow the body to get used to moving in certain ways. Walking in the park, swimming in your local swimming pool, and weight training will allow an overweight person to start feeling the benefits of exercise.
Studies show that obese people who participate in regular exercise programs have a lower risk of all-cause mortality than sedentary individuals, regardless of weight. Both men and women of all sizes and fitness levels can improve their health with an increase in activity levels.
Even if your goal isn’t weight loss, doing exercise will help you improve your overall health.
Stretching is crucial before a workout
There is little evidence to show that pre exercise static stretching will prevent injury. In fact more research has shown that static exercise on cold muscles can be detrimental to performance.
If you are looking to prevent injury then it is advisable to do a thorough warm up involving movements through different ranges of motion. Focus on mobilising each joint such as shoulder circles, high knees, and rotating your torso in a controlled manner.
If you do choose to stretch before exercise then make sure you have done your mobility exercises first along with 5-10 minutes of low intensity aerobic exercise.
Swimming is for old people with joint problems
People associate swimming with the elderly or people with injuries. They may see a majority of participants in a water aerobics class are elderly or that people running in a swimming pool have a knee injury.
First of all these exercises are beneficial for these types of people as they are low impact so their joints won’t take a beating. This does not mean that swimming is just for these types of people.
Swimming for instance is a fantastic way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and the resistance of the water will make your muscles work at a beneficial intensity. For people who don’t like running on the treadmill or visiting the weights section then swimming is ideal.
Top athletes integrate fitness workouts in water into their training programs for variety and to challenge themselves in different ways. Including these activities also prevents you from developing any reoccurring injuries through just doing one type of movement alone such as running.
If you don’t like gyms or you don’t like getting hot and sweaty then try out various water based fitness exercises. Michael Phelps has a good body shape so swimming can’t be too bad for fitness and body image. If its good enough for him then its good enough for you.
The Health and Fitness Benefits of Mind-Body Exercise Like Tai Chi and Yoga Are Questionable
If you are talking about losing weight then I would make sure that you include strength training and aerobic workouts however mind-body exercises can be extremely beneficial to us all.
Good health and fitness includes aerobic fitness, strength of joints and muscles, a balanced diet and good mental health.
Tai chi, for example, has been shown to help treat lower back pain and fibromyalgia. Improved flexibility, balance, coordination, posture, strength and stress management are just some of the potential results of mind-body exercise.
Research showing the benefits of these exercises continues to grow and more people should take time to include these types of exercise sessions in to their weekly routine. With the busy and sedentary lives we live, it is more important than ever to gain the benefits of yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
Work out on your mental health as well as your physical health!